For a long time, I’ve been pondering over where our community has strength and what we’re known for in society. We often brag to others how Sikhs are the most law abiding, the strongest, or how we earn the most money out of the different minorities in the West. The last example stands out considerably whether you go to North America or here in Europe. But does financial wealth come at a cost far higher than just monetary?
We give ourselves many reasons for why we are addicted to making more money. We tell ourselves we’re more hard-working, more honest, more deserving. But thirsting for wealth can very easily lead to slipping into the trappings of corruption and power. One of my favourite emcees Macklemore released a song last year called ‘Make the Money’ reminding his audience to “make the money, don’t let the money make you // change the game, don’t let the game change you.” There’s something deeply profound in this simple chorus. Uruguayan President José Mujica, an ex-guerrilla rebel, is famous for having an informal dress sense and lifestyle. When asked about the reason for it, he said “it is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor“. How wonderfully sovereign of him! Compare these both with any of the hundreds of Gurdwareh car parks which look more like a Mercedes dealership than a place of peace on a Sunday. Do we need this for ourselves, or are these possessions a signal to the outside world of our success?
My father often relays local tales of exhausted semi-retired married couples who have spent their entire lives creating big palaces to live in. Yet they’re empty. They’re cold. The parents spent an eternity adding zeros to the bank balance and they forgot to make healthy happy relationships with their children, until it was too late.
Measuring how successful a person is by how much money they have and the possessions they have obtained is pretty lame to me. Character and actions play a far more important role. For me it’s simple: if you have extremely high blood pressure caused by work stress, yet have lots of money, I’m sorry but I don’t see you as successful; if you have a big house, the fastest cars, yet you don’t have much of a relationship with your children as you didn’t have time, I’m sorry but I don’t see you as successful; if you and those are around you are fulfilled, loved and healthy, then you are successful in my eyes.
I’d be a lot happier if we as a community really think about how we made the money and how we spend it. What we’re really hiding are the sacrifices being made to produce such stats. It’s one thing to have money, but it’s another to have the life experience to know where to spend it. I hope our generation will find the balance between wants and needs in a way that our parents never had the privilege to find. Our parent’s generation gave their lives in exchange for our freedom to be anything. We could be the artists, the thinkers, the writers they didnt have the option to be. When we are truly great, the need to brag to others will stop. Money brings fulfilment, enriches the soul and gives freedom: let’s fight the addiction and use it properly and be the best versions of us, or at least the best that we can be.